Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Do you have a plan?

I know we've talked about goals before, but this is a little different. I am wondering if you have a plan for your riding in terms of how many days a week you will ride, and what you intend to accomplish in a specific ride?

Riding is a lot like home improvement. It always seems that more gets done when you actually have a plan in mind. I mean, you can sit and look at the Thing That Needs Fixin' for six months or you can decide that, this Saturday morning, you will get out of the house no later than 10 AM and proceed to the hardware store with your list of things needed to make that repair. Guess which scenario results in a Fixed Thing? We all know the answer to that!

Whether we've got a green horse, are battling confidence issues, or both, we all know that it's soooo easy to justify not riding! If you don't have a plan, it's even easier. When you have a plan, you have to admit when you fail to follow the plan. You're making yourself accountable to yourself - which usually works awesome as we're all our own worst critics!

My plan with the VLC has been to ride 3x a week. I'm pretty much doing that - I try for every other day but maybe once a week I slip and it's every third day. I rode him Wednesday and then I rode him Saturday and then I rode him Monday and then I slipped again tonight. Well, by 8:45 I was covered in mud and water from trying to drag hose to water the new rescue mare, and you know, at that point in the evening, if you go back to the cozy house to change clothes, you just know you are not coming back out again. So I fed the VLC and tucked him in for the night.
The pic of the VLC and me is from Monday of this week. I keep trying to get decent pictures in the indoor. And failing. And we have no outdoor, nor any decent place to ride outside that does not have loose horses in it. That'd be bad.

What I should get better about is specific goals for each ride. I don't usually do that. I mean, I think maybe today we'll put the bit in his mouth, maybe today I'll ask for a few steps of backing up, but I know some of you have your training plans all planned out with far more specificity than I do. Now, that doesn't mean you can't adjust those for bad weather, greenie moods, lack of personal fortitude on a particular day, or the occasional jack donkey in a trailer in the parking lot that renders the VLC unrideable...but I still suspect those of you with really good plans get more done.

So which kind of rider are you? If you're not a planner at all, would it help if you were? How about trying to make a thirty day plan to see if it helps you? If you are a planner, how are you doing sticking to your plan, and did you always ride/train this way or did you have to develop it as you got older as a method of getting things done because your life has become more jam-packed and if you don't actually pencil in riding, it won't happen?


OutRiding01 said...

Ooooh, I am not a planner whatsoever. Never have been and probably never will be. When I was showing regularly and had my own horses, I took 2 lessons a week and if I didn't like how something went in a lesson then I'd make a mental note to work on that next ride. But aside from that, I'd just go out, hop on and do whatever I felt like. I also did a fair amount of catch riding so no plan needed ahead of time there.
Now I go out and just ask what needs riding, then get on and do whatever the trainer/owner says needs to be done. I don't have any idea what or how many I'm riding on any given day so that's a great excuse to not plan anything. Although now I have my crazy TB gelding project that I talked about before, and my plan with him from day to day is simply to not get dumped and hopefully teach him how to trot without adding in extra gallop steps... Maybe once we get that we'll work on walking with out prancing and running sidways into things. My shin can only get whacked on the fence so many times.
I will admit, when I was younger, I probably would have gotten way more done with my own horses if I had some sort of plan, but as it stands all my horses learned some really useful and interesting things stemming from my boredom. My first pony could canter a circle with her haunches in place, on the buckle.... not handy in a pony hunter class but kind of cool all around. My jumper could be ridden with no bridle at all (although not when actually jumping, that always pushed the button in his brain that said "High-Strung, Psycho Jumper").

Anonymous said...

Oh no- we do NOT plan. Planning is a disaster for me. I procrastinate and hem haw around. I ride when "the urge" strikes- which in this heat hasn't been since May 17th (when I ended up with a nice sunburn)! When it cools off outside I will be riding much more, but I just cannot handle this heat. Sadly, we did not have a Spring this year. We just went from ice cold to hotter than hell. Maybe we will have an autumn, but if I had to choose between riding in the heat or riding in the cold, I would choose the cold. It might not be so bad if I had somewhere indoors to ride, but I don't.

whisper_the_wind said...

Oh, I plan. I even have them written down. Do I ever accomplish what I have planned...NOT. I will not work any of my 9 without another person around (4 are VERY green). Hubby says he'll help, but that's real reliable. takes me getting after him (aka nagging, or me doing it myself) to get basic things done.

I guess it soesn't help that I'm still recovering from knee surgery.

Plans only work when everything else does. When I get the time, and someone is here, I ride...otherwise...I pet, groom and groundwork.

which_chick said...

I do better with a plan because I find having a plan reassuring and confidence-building. I can work up nerve to do the plan because I have a day or two to think about it.

Obviously, the plan goes out the window if the horse appears totally insane on any given day. However, having A Plan makes me assess the horse for real instead of projecting my own views onto the horse.

"Okay, so it's windy. I can see that you're concerned about this."

"It's VERY windy. Look, her tail is blowing right up under her butt."

"Does PH appear to give a damn?"

"No. She looks calm, like usual."

"And she lives outside all the time where there is wind. Probably she's been in the wind before, right?"

"Well, yeah."

"So this is not new for her. I think the problem with the wind is YOU, dipshit. You know we only avoid The Plan if the *horse* has an issue. Tack her up and if she behaves as usual for that part, you're getting on."


(We had a pleasant and relaxed ride *with* the wind blowing her tail up her butt.)

The Plan is not usually super detailed -- the general format is feed-n-groom, tack up, get on, do old stuff (reviews build confidence), do some new stuff, end on a good note (if necessary, by going back and doing old stuff again), done for the day.

If we're doing an out-and-about ride, it's planned to only be a little bit harder (to my mind) than a previous ride so that I can argue myself into doing it -- "Sure, you can ride to the buckwheat field and back. You've already been across the road and down into the hollow. That went fine. So, half of the ride is review material that you KNOW she's not going to have any problem with. Tell you what --- you can just TRY it and if it doesn't work out, you can come home again once you've done the part that is review."

(At the end of the review part...) "So, were there any problems?"


"And you're both still alive?"


"And you're still on the horse?"


"Does she seem worried or upset?"


"Right, then. Ride on! You can do it!" (The amount of mental cheerleading that a short walk in the woods requires... *sigh*)

The Having-A-Plan thing should not "work" on me, but it does. By virtue of plans, I can stretch my chickenshit nerve beyond its natural range and I think I get more done.

4Horses&Holding said...

VLC said: "So which kind of rider are you? If you're not a planner at all, would it help if you were?"

Not a planner. (Pretty much in all aspects of life.)

I think that if I WERE able to be a planner, it would make things unbelievably easier. I just haven't figured out to actually become a planner. It's not as easy as it seems.

(I'm a Pisces.)

Fleeting said...

I'm a planner, simply because I always seem to be working towards a deadline. Need to be ready for show X in two months. Need to show him to his owners in X weeks. Right now it's especially difficult as the 4 year old OTTB I got on for the first time lat night is only with me for 30 days as a trial period.

I'm keeping our goals pretty basic though. Two days ago, our goal was to walk more than one circle before breaking into trot on the lunge line - done! We are having an issue with spinning his hip out and stopping when I lunge, so I'm working on reducing the times he stops on me in every 15 min work out. Going to the left, we are down to once, but to the right we're still on 5-6.

Yesterday our goal was to get on his back without dying - done! We walked around the large outdoor sand arena in a somewhat wobbily fashion but were very brave. Surprisingly, when I mounted he just wanted to stand there. When I got brave, we even trotted down the long side both going towards and away from home, both directions, and even pulled off a line that was only slightly drunk! To top off a great ride, we walked over some trot poles on the ground and he took it all in stride.

I'm away for the weekend, but the goal for Monday is to teach him how to free jump so I can evaluate his jumping form. Tuesday may be a day off, Wednesday our goal is to have a good, safe ride in the grass ring. Thursday our goal will be to trot a full lap in either direction in the grass ring.

It's funny about these goals though, I swear the boy's a mind reader. The more I focus on these simple little goals, the more he easily surpasses them!

Lisa said...

Not a planner, either. What is it they say about the best laid plans? Haha. For me, too much or too detailed planning and horses are sort of incompatible.

That's not to say I ride without rhyme or reason. I have ideas of what I want to accomplish. I have a loose schedule that I try to stick to. But with horses, I think you have to have the ability to change on the fly or else you're setting yourself up for a lifetime of frustration and disappointment.


I find if I do not plan to ride, its not going to happen. It's so easy to get distracted once you are out there grooming, cleaning stalls, etc. I alwasy take Monday's off if we have shown that weekend. My goal is to ride 4 times a week, and if I am lucky 5 on a really good week.

in2paints said...

I'm definitely a planner... if I don't plan, I don't do.
My horse is 8 years old but has done nothing but trails from the beginning. I've had her since she was a weanling and I've done all her "training", which consisted of simply breaking her to w/t/c and to be a pleasure to be around and ride. This year, because I want to show SO badly, I've been working with a trainer and I'm trying to re-teach myself to ride, more with my seat and less with my legs and reins. You know, actually ride! I've also been trying to teach my horse new things as well that will make us successful in the show ring. Your blog has actually inspired me to write my own blog ( and it really helps to track her progress on "paper".
Anyways, back to the topic... I try to ride 6 days a week. Some days I don't feel like it, but I force myself to go to the barn and ride. I work on one new thing per day and also do refreshers for her from past days. Once she "gets" the new idea, she's done. I don't ride her more than 30 - 45 minutes per day. After I ride, she gets hosed off and taken to the clover patch for a reward. The next day brings more of the same... a new idea and refreshers. Having a plan for the next day motivates me to get my butt to the barn and ride.

Emilie said...

What's really fantastic about that picture is he's got the headset that people tie their horses heads down to achieve, and all you're doing is encouraging him to move forward and be relaxed.

You mean, you can achieve quality from your horse by actually riding it correctly, rather than abusing it? Perish the thought!

Gail said...

I have a basic idea of what I want to accomplish with each horse and I try to schedule my life so that I work with each horse 4-5 times a week. I am starting three 4 yo's now, two are sweet mares and one is a gelding who has been upset by a farrier and is now a scaredy-cat! Each horse has a different personality and can take different amounts of pressure (new stuff) so even tho I started them at the same time, they are at different stages of training (learning). My goal with each one is to review what we have accomplished the days prior and add one, sometimes teeny tiny, new thing.
The mares are doing just fine and scaredy-cat is coming along.

However, I need some help with a gelding we rescued from the canner a couple of years ago. Now about 7yo, possibly Perch/Mustang???, was taken from a band of wild horses (northern BC), roped, gelded, and legs tied to posts for trimming! This horse is very cute and only trusts me to a point. I can lead him anywhere, tack, lunge, etc. but am still unable to pick up his feet! He is SUPER SENSITIVE and is afraid if you move too fast (moves away from you very quickly but never puts pressure on lead line). I have had him sedated by the vet for trims in the past but can't keep doing that. We are now at the point that I can pick up his fronts but as soon as I try to use a hoof pick, he sets it back down (strong little bugger, I can't hold on). His pasterns are rope burn scarred so using ropes is out of the question.

Heidi the Hick said...

I never used to be a planner.

Now that I have the goal (instructor certification) it's been easier to plan. I've had to stretch out the plan quite a bit to accommodate for that pesky depression/ meds thing this past few months. All my sub-goals have been pushed back a couple of months. Well who cares - that's a hell of a lot better than just giving up, which part of me wants to do daily. Shut up, giving-up-part!!!!!!!!

Because the certification program in this province is all set up in steps, planning has been natural.

Also, working for a coach has been such a great influence. Watching her teach, working on her place, has shown me what I need to do.

I didn't used to plan my own rides very well. I'd just say, today we'll jog, and then just... jog. Now I'm more likely to say, we'll jog three rounds, then post, transition back to jog, do some cone bending and then finish up with turns on the haunches. Or whatever, but basically have in mind what to do as opposed to seeing what comes up.

Having said that, stuff does come up and has to be worked through. The plan has to be changed sometimes. But even that is easier, I'm finding, when your brain is trained for making all those steps of the process.

Heidi the Hick said...

Another thing that helps is scheduling my week.

Wed, Thurs, Fri are my barn days.

Sadly, I need a lot of help with my weekends. If we get out to the farm there are a lot of social/ family commitments, not to mention barn work that I need to help out with. My ride time has really been suffering, so that's something I have to plan much better than I have been.

And with that, I'm off to walk the dog and get in my truck and go ride!

mugwump said...

Hey fugs,
Believe me, if I get to a World Show, I never have enough money left to take snapshots with my
1980's instamatic much less pay a photagrapher:)
I always play it loose w/ my plans. I do have a general goal for each horse, but if I get stusk at a certain point I don't sweat it.
Fugs- I need some pleasure, English eq related driving advice...want to use a little on my 4 year old cowhorses. (I am truly evil sometimes) Is that what you do? Willing to share?

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

>>"And she lives outside all the time where there is wind. Probably she's been in the wind before, right?"

"Well, yeah."<<

ROTFLMAO! I love your mental conversation - so much like mine. I tell myself things like that too. The ONLY reason a horse behaves differently from the same thing with a rider on his back is because WE tense up and MAKE him different! I had to tell myself that with the VLC and the he goes out to pasture next to the goat ALL THE TIME, if he is different when I am on his back, it's because I CREATED THAT! :-)

>>What's really fantastic about that picture is he's got the headset that people tie their horses heads down to achieve, and all you're doing is encouraging him to move forward and be relaxed.<<

You know what, he's built to go low headed and that makes all the difference. I've said before, you have to put a round peg in a round hole or you'll be fighting forever. He is built to be a pleasure horse - it's very natural for him to go low headed. If he were built to be a reiner, and I were trying to jam him into the pleasure horse niche, it would be a train wreck. Likewise, it would never work to try to make him into a reiner. A lot of the abuse is caused by people trying to jam that square peg into the round hole, no matter what.

Gail - I still have the same problem with the VLC. He is stronger than I am. I have tried just holding the edge of the hoof and I still can't get the better of him, and my back is so bad it's really a problem. I can pick his feet but I can't get him to hold up feet for any length of time. I am just going to have to pay someone else with a better back to work with him on this. My farrier says not to let him win, well, I don't have a lot of choice in the matter!

gillian said...

I've only started planning very much since I started a blog. That way it actually gets written down, which helps me a lot when I go to try to remember what it was I wanted. I'm like a lot of people who commented here, I have general goals for each horse, and every time I go out to ride them I pick which one I want to work on based on my mood and theirs. Sometimes a problem comes up and I have the instant goal of getting past that problem. Yesterday, for example, mostly arabian mare didn't want to walk past the gazebo without throwing a fit/throwing her shoulder.

Speaking of inappropriate throwing of body parts, fleeting, what is it you're doing when they throw their hip out of the circle? I've been trying various things, pushing them around, waiting for them to do something, moving to a position where they arent facing me and then pushing them. Its working OK, but I always like to know what other people are doing to solve their problems, so I can steal their ideas.

quietann said...

I don't have a written plan, just a few weekly goals. I want to ride 4 days a week, including Feronia on at least two of those days. Trump, my trainer's lovely old boy, is used primarily to rebuild my confidence. For Feronia, I would like to do a little bit more each time I ride her, but it totally depends on her mood. If she's being spooky and silly, I might just walk her for 15 minutes. If she's not, we will do WTC, using a lot of transitions to keep her interested. We should be back to trotting poles and maybe even small jumps soon... hopefully before she goes to eventing camp on June 23, and I don't get her back until mid-July! I am actually considering asking the camp folks if it would be OK for me to drive up to visit her and maybe ride a couple of times. It's a 2 1/2 hour drive, though...

A medium-range goal is to work her away from her herdboundness... My trainer and her daughter will be doing a lot of the "heavy lifting" on that one.

Longer-term, I would really, really like to have us well enough sorted out that I can ride her in a dressage test or two at a schooling show on August 24. Any sort of competition involving jumps will be put off until next year.

ponydust said...

Sometimes I just put off another job that has to be done, and lay a saddle on one of the 2 OTStB that have undoubtedly been bored outa their minds since I got them 3 years ago. But infrequently enuf that I still consider them 'green'.
Partly gutless (me, not them), partly way overloaded with other responsibilities so the fun stuff gets pushed to the back burner.
Mostly I can just comfort myself that they are in their last home and if I wanna have them lead a good life and be my eye-candy, then that's OK too.
And there's a dearth of eyes to watch if I get into trouble and at 62 I break easier than I used to.

The VLC snapshot is an ideal example of "length of rein" that I was taught as a kid was a great conformation benefit. Beauty !!

Karen V said...

I'm a planner. I usually visualize what I'm going to do during down time at work. Sometimes the wind has picked up by the time I get home and the most they get is arena time. (All my horses "self-exercise)

But when I'm saddling, I think about 4 or 5 things that I want to get from the horse - tipping his nose in, or out, hip in and nose in, forehand cross-over, hind pivot, two-track, roll back, "whoa", soft cues. I also save the easiest for last so we always end on a positive note.

Then there are times when "the Plan" is just to get on and not get bucked off!

Spotted_T_Apps said...

I've found a few tricks to force me to get out and ride. Others to ride with. I always keep neighbor girls around. It doesn't matter where you live, there are always neighbor girls. If you have plans with them to ride, you ride.

Keeping a riding blog, that people actually read. If you say on the blog that you are riding tonight, by god, you better ride. is great for accountability. You set goals, do a short blog daily on it, and mark it done when done. LOVE IT!

la mexicana said...

About the feet issue - I had a mare that did the same thing. She was completely wild (and abused) when I got her. Using ropes was out of the question. I started with the front feet only because she would at least let me touch them. She would pick them up and then stomp then down as fast and as hard as she could. Working on my side was the fact that she never tried to kick me.

She would pick up the front feet, and I would grab it. If she let me grab it, we were done. If she didn't, I made her pick up the foot over and over again until she let me grab it. We did this for a few days, and then I would make her old it there while I counted to 2. If she held it up, we were done. If she didn't hold it, we did it over and over until she got to 2. We increase the time (by 2 seconds a day or so) until she was comfortable holding them up while I picked them. She was really smart and also lazy, so she learned everything with amazing speed.

After she was comfortable with the fronts, I started doing the backs. A lot of it was trust issues with her. She was way worse with the back feet, but the "training" went way faster since she had already figured out how to "get it over with".

I want to emphasize to everyone not to put yourself in danger when doing this! We got over the "don't touch my feet and tail" issues with this mare in a matter of weeks. However, after a year of training she was still not trustable and ended up hurting someone. She was sold to people who claimed to be experienced trainers. I found out they can't get near her feet and I doubt they have been trimmed since I sold her to them. Poor girl.

Earn the horse's trust and gradually build up the time the horse holds each hoof up. I actually counted out loud - I think it help the mare understand what I was doing.

Sagebrusheq said...

I shoot for seven days which results in 4-6. Less than four means that you are going more than two in a row without riding, which is better than nothing but sort of fritters away your efforts. I expend a good amount of thought on the horse after a ride, not immediately after but in the evening when dinner and the days sensations have digested a bit. From that a general outline of tomorrows lesson is derived. If something gets in the way that needs to be addressed first , as happens as often as not, the plan gets modified or scrapped- if I have my wits about me. I'm not an organized person and I've found that this way of going about things helps to fight that proclivity.

Every horse and every day with every horse is different but my overall goals for a young horse are to have him calm, accepting the aids, seeking contact, and fit enough to begin schooling proper, training level. However long that takes, three months to a year, doesn't matter. I won't take someone else's horse for less than three months except that it be to fix some particular elementary problem like trailer loading, bad to shoe and so forth.

I generally leave them turned out with a reliable friend so that they get used to sights and sounds at their leisure. I start them in a large square sided corral. Once upon a time I just got on in the open and immediately rode them out onto the trail (behind fences from roads) with a friend, with no ground work whatever but found that to be counterproductive at times. Without some understanding of steering it was sometimes necessary to muscle them around and I try to avoid that at all costs now. Once the horse has a modicum of steering apparatus, maybe a day or two after backing, I get out of the corral for the most part and ride in the wild where the horse learns to handle himself physically and mentally without much interference from the rider; and gets fit in the process. I try to put him in situations where I can be a helping hand rather than a forcing one. I think it helps to build their confidence in you. It's nice to ride with someone else sometimes but it's also important to ride alone. Follow the leader can be helpful in some situations but it doesn't do much in the way of training and getting him reliant on you.

During this kindergarten I do not ask for any flexions at the poll except on the ground and when backing. In fact with youngsters who are precocious that way I back off and ride them forward at the trot into floating reins to forestall that development until I'm sure they are fit enough for some collection and will follow the bit, with contact, into the dirt with a somewhat stiff neck.

It is my goal that by graduation day he is soft; even and relaxed in his paces; has some boldness as a result of trust in his rider and getting used to things on his own; and listening to the aids in all their various combinations.

I also like get the horse jumping early on during this period but not through formal schooling. Rather, I want him taking obstacles as a matter of course in a days ride with no fuss. First logs and so forth that he can step over and eventually trot through and (very) gradually raising them so that he is jumping without realizing that he is "jumping". These are infrequent and very simple requiring nothing from the rider and I stop raising them when they get to a height where the horse has to do more than just tuck his feet, actually propelling his mass upwards, say 2'6" to 3'. Straight forward combinations of even strides are ok.

That's my broad plan, such as it is. Not being a professional I have the luxury of not having to rush things and can go about it as I see fit. I may do 2 or 12 horses a year. I haven't mentioned a score of things that are part of general manners that any experienced horseman would expect of a started horse. When the horse goes to a real trainer, hopefully, he is ready to start schooling in the discipline for which he is most suited. If he is destined for a weekend rider with some experience I try to explain as much as I can about the horse and the way he has been trained, take them for as many rides as they like no charge, offer caveats and suggestions and encourage them to not ask the horse to do things that they don't know how to do themselves. And say a little prayer for the sake of all.


EquineSpirit said...

Well...I try to plan but rarely do things happen the way I had planned! One of the joys of boarding I suppose...LOL! Although now that we have a new two year old I'm going to have to plan a little more and try to stick with it no matter what's going on so I don't forget what I'm doing with each horse. :)

bigpainthorse said...

Planning has turned out to be a double-edged sword for me. I am pretty big on planning, and have my "ride days" scheduled out well in advance in an attempt to keep them from being squashed by the time demands of the rest of my life. I even used to plan goals, but now I try to just play it by ear, because sometimes BPM or I or both of us will just not be in the right place to work on a particular thing. A good example is the day I "planned" to work on standing still to mount, and BPM was so wound up I couldn't get her to stand still for carrots, much less mounting. So we went to Plan B that day, and round-penned and worked on transitions from the ground instead.

She works with our trainer 2x/week, I have one lesson on her per week, then work with her myself 2x each week. The trainer has a plan for her, and sometimes during my lesson it's a combined "work on me working with her" kind of session, which is always very helpful.

Sometimes, though, our goal is just "ride, have fun." Planning is good, but sometimes it can just be another set-up to feel like you've failed somehow.

amarygma said...

Sometimes yes, there is a plan. Sometimes, that plan is nonexistant or he's just being really super good and i decide we should just go enjoy the good horse he's being and not worry about pushing it to some next level.

ellen said...

I had to learn to develop plans when I started riding horses for other people. I also have plans for my lesson riders. Although I'm only riding my own now, I'm trying to prepare several for sale and if I dawdle around, I'll end up feeding them through another winter, which I really don't want to do.

I keep a big loose leaf notebook with a divider tab for each horse in training/lesson rider. I try to make notes after each ride or lesson about what we learned and what we need to work on.

I try to ride every day but one -- Friday night I have to scrape some of the crust off the house, pay some bills, do wash, and such domestic burdens, and the horses get one day off. I have seven in training, and when I'm working through the week I divide them in groups and work each group every other day, with both groups getting worked on the weekends along with messing with all the babies.

I go into each ride or training session with general goals in mind, but have to also be mindful that you ride the horse you have on any given day, and that they may switch up the agenda on me, by presenting a hole in their training I'd overlooked, having a "bad mare day" or just needing something besides what I had in mind. And sometimes MY brain is fried and we just need to go for a pony ride, or if I'm VERY tired and stressed out, we just groom and visit and do some ground work.

robyn said...

Oh no- we do NOT plan. Planning is a disaster for me. I procrastinate and hem haw around. I ride when "the urge" strikes-

Hoo boy, I'm glad I'm not the only one! Mostly my Icepony needs miles, and that can only happen on Saturdays, unless I ride in my crappy little arena, which is as boring as it sounds for both me and the horse.
But I'm on the long-term plan anyway--not in a hurry, not planning to show or compete, just pots along on the trail for now.

crazyhorse said...

I am a 'move forward' rider...let's challenge ourselves and see if we can place in a show (better than dead last) and try something new and different.
Today I am riding later in the evening (it has been one of those weeks where you scramble from one side of the state to the other) and tomorrow night I work my first horse show at our new saddle club...Yes, I joined one so me and Doofus can go for year end high points...
I learned a long time ago procrastinating leads to life-long regrets...and since I figure I do not have much more than 40 yrs (if I am lucky) left on this earth I better get to goin'...
My BIGGEST plan is to use Doofus as my world class show horse and possibly DRIVE him in my show cart and harness at the Paint/Pinto world shows driving classes.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem with me making plans to ride with it being so hot is that I don't ride for any set amount of time or in any set area. What I call "a ride" is jumping on and taking off for hours at a time. I rode Pixie home from the trainer's house- that was 6 miles down the oil roads. The trail ride we took them on last month was around 10 miles. I just don't jump on and ride around the yard- I take off for hours at a time riding on roads or in the woods. In 100 degree heat it just isn't very doable. I just kind of feel like if I'm gonna ride I want to really ride. Fortunately, she isn't cold backed and I am not afraid to jump on her after she's been standing in the pasture for a month. She may be a little fresh, but overall she's a good girl.

Anonymous said...

Oh- I just wanted to mention that even though Pixie may not be ridden for an while, she gets daily exercise in the form of them running every day. My horses are extremely active out in the pasture and they have a routine where after dinner, they run for about an hour. It's bizarre how they exercise themselves. If they didn't do this I would at least go lunge every day, but it's neat that they do and it is really a sight to watch them every evening playing chase in the pasture. (sorry for the multi post. Haven't had enough coffee yet)

loneplainsman said...

<<(I'm a Pisces.)

That might explain it!! I am too and I am NOT a planner. At all. I do not like plans. And, interestingly, neither does my horse.

Earlier on, when I thought I "had" to have a plan, I would draw them up. We are going to do X, Y and Z today. Yeah, never worked. Ever. My horse said - I know exactly what you want to do and I'm not having any of it. Smart horse.

So after a year or so of making plans that failed (I'm a slow learner - can you tell?!) I gave up on pre-made plans. I have long term goals - but I don't have a schedule for attacking those goals. I play it by ear and take what he offers.

My routine every day is to take him out of his pen and to the arena - stopping for grass on the way - where I turn him loose. And then I watch him. Some days he gallops away, bucking and rearing. Other days he just sniffs around. Other days he's glued to me. That's when I work out an idea of what to do.

If he's really hot, we're doing a lot of groundwork before I ride. I might have him practice his jumping from a lunge. I might have him to a lot of cantering on-line. And then when he's OK to ride, we'll ride with more intensity than usual. More trot/canter. More gross motor skills. Little to no finesse/lateral work. And I'll put a saddle on him - just in case.

If he is calmer, I might do just a little groundwork, or I might do none at all. I might use a saddle, but usually I'm too lazy to bother (it's 55lbs and I have to groom him first vs. finding a mounting block and hopping on) so I ride bareback. I work on my balance at trot/canter (because I know he's not as inclined to run away with me and the ride will be smoother) and we practice our finesse.

But that's about the extent of my planning. Always done on the day, after assessing his mood. Always in a way that takes what he wants to do and utilize that instead of forcing him to do something he just cannot do that day.

And it's really paid off. We tend to have better, more productive sessions this way... far better than when I tried to make set-in-stone plans!

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Haha, I am a Leo but I have a lot of Virgo in me which is, I assume, where I get my love of research, investigation, list-making and planning!

brat_and_a_half said...

I plan to an extent. Of course things change if the horse is in an iregular mood that day, but if I plan to go out and jump, I do that. I might spend 50 minutes of the hour ride getting the horse to respond to my half halts riding flat, but ill still end the day popping over a cross rail or 2. I think you need to have some sort of plan, and idea of what you want to work on, but to plan out a month "today ill teach the horse to leg yeild, tomarrow Ill try it at trot, the next day Ill try from the quarter line to the rail..." is just silly because day one, the horse might shut down because it doesnt understand, and you might spend the next 2 days going forward and coming back. When I was conditioning my old horse for an eventing camp, I planned which days were arena day, and which were long trot days, but I ddin't specify what I was doing in the arena, and it all worked out ok.

With the little WB filly, today I plan on trotting. But if she's going to get stuck, I'll spend more time reving her up, and bringing her back, practicing stearing too. It all depends on the day.

Gail said...

Thanks for the comments re the feet issue. Fugly, it is nice to know that I am not alone. Good luck with yours!
la mexicana - TRUST is completely the issue with my gelding - he is always expecting to be disciplined. Your explanation is pretty much what I have been doing with him - and only working with the front feet for now. He will let me hold the edge of his toes but I can't hang on well enough to keep the foot up to pick it out. I am sorry to hear that your mare has reverted to her old ways with her feet. When I sell this one, I hope to be able to work with the buyer on the feet issue until I feel sure that he can trust that person also. Unfortunately, until I get this issue over with, I am reluctant to get on his back in case something happens with the feet and we make things worse. I guess patience is a virtue with this pretty little boy and I will continue what I am doing unless someone else has other ideas I can try.
Thanks again - my long term goal is to find someone to love the heck out of this fella for the rest of his life. He really responds to a gentle touch and I have named him "Dream Catcher" 'cause I hope he will make some kind hearted female's dreams come true.

christeljoy73 said...

I love to plan, I'm a Capricorn! I love to clean, plan, and organize. But I have a lot of Taurus too, which means I like to procrastinate, and the littlest excuse will have all plans go poof!

Right now my goal is to work with the youngsters every day in some way, mostly leading, grooming and playing with feet. I've found all the itchy spots on Alex my two month old HA, and can pet his face and ears. Now I'm working on touching his 'tickly' spots: belly, feet, tail. He also needs work with leading, but I need a helper for that, and that's hard to get around here. Never, my 3 yr Arab colt, leads and ties, but needs foot work and desensitizing while not tied (I can groom him while he's tied, but not when he's not. Weird)

I'd love to be riding Sketch, and I have a plan for getting him in condition, but I have to wait for his hoof to grow out before I can get on. So we're doing a lot of ground work, going for walks, grooming, bonding stuff.

I also have plans to replace the round pen panels with wood, build a safe outdoor riding area, and to divide the paddock better. Then there's the plans to revise my goals... *S*

OutRiding01 said...

<<(I'm a Pisces.)>>

Lol same here! No planning allowed, it could be very damaging to us as individuals...

dp said...

I am a planner. I have a Google calendars for (a) what I want to accomplish and (b) what I actually accomplished on a week-by-week basis. Unfortunately I do not have an indoor and the weather here has been CRAP so there have been lots of excuses recently. Oh least I have no one to disappoint but myself.

dp said...

I should add that I am also a Capricorn.

serensk said...

I'm not a great planner. I plan to ride every night, and then sometimes stuff happens and I don't. :P I plan to ride the old horse twice a week, and all other days belong to my mare.

In terms of goals, though, I do tend to set those in advance of the ride, even if it's just while tacking up. Not with the old horse, but definitely the young mare. They don't tend to be very lofty.

For taking pictures indoors, try taking video instead and then grabbing stills out of it. It won't be as good as proper pictures taken outside, but it will be better than what you're getting. You'll see far less dust spots, for example.

QueenSkankarella said...

Interesting, because I was just writing/blogging about my plans for riding this afternoon.

I have two lessons a week, plus a minimum of two non-lesson rides. In otherwords, there are never two days in a row where I *don't* ride.

At this point, I'm trying to compile a list comprised of smaller goals, which will get me into spring dressage shows. My goal is a Level II, but likely I'm going to end up doing a Level I.

nccatnip said...

I, too, am a Pisces. Does planning to make a plan count?
Okay, my short term plan was to ride both mornings this weekend but the farrier is coming Sat am so unless it cools off some in the evening (not likely) I am shooting for Sunday morning. Nothing planned further than that as I am going out of town next week but plan to have a plan upon return!
One plan is to start working with at least one of the horses everyday. Right now, the two new guys are the choosen targets as I am witnessing some bad manners (kicking) that needs to be nipped in the bud now, hungry or not. Today they both got baths, feet scrubbed, I am a little hesitant to really get down there on the rear feet on the 4 yo as he has kicked out more often than the belgian. So as they progress, I will set goals for each one of the rescues and myself with Reddi as far as riding.

SammieRockes said...

I am not a planner at all, I tried but, when I got to the barn, I just did something else instead. But I do have a goal and sorta action plan. State Horse Show is in September, my horse dislikes the arena. But I want to show him western pleasure, so GOAL=Get him working nicely in an arena at the walk, jog, lope. and work on backing, he'll do it, but with a lot of effort.

So Action plan, ride him a few times a week in June and August, and September(Gone for three weeks in July) Just walking nicely and on the wall in the arena, then move up to walking and jogging, and then walking, jogging, and loping(Loping is where we run into the problem, I'll ask for a lead and he does a barrel horse turn(But at least its the correct lead!))

mugwump said...

On the feet don't get mad at me folks...
Have you tried giving your pick up cue,(whatever you want) then running a hoof pick up the space between his tendons and below his knee?
I don't mean kill him, just enough pressure for him to lift his foot on his own. Then put it in your hand. If he takes it away or puts weight on you do it again.
Repeat until he'll lift and gently give you any foot you want, and hold it on his own....

loneplainsman said...

<< Haha, I am a Leo but I have a lot of Virgo in me which is, I assume, where I get my love of research, investigation, list-making and planning!

My father is a Leo and he has the love of research and investigation but absolutely no interest or desire to plan in advanced. He finds them to be more stifling than I do, even.

My mother, on the other hand, is a Gemini, and she is the queen of ultra-planning. She packs her suitcases over two weeks before a trip!

Interesting to see so many non-planning Pisces though... maybe I have an excuse!!

Heat Stroke in FL said...

Well, my girl is a greenie. She probably has a good 6 months under saddle and is going very well walk, trot, and canter. Right now, we are working on staying consistent in our headset and speed. My goal is to ride 3 or 4 days a week. Tue, Thur, Sat, Sun. I ride for about 30 minutes. My training goal is to have her going a little more calmly and consistently with each ride. After we get this down pat, I'll start working on more demaning moves such as side passes, roll backs, etc.

ellen said...

I do have to laugh at the "mental conversation" it takes to do something simple like trail riding these days.

It used to be pretty straightforward: "OK, horse, we're going to ride to X place today. It's going to be an adventure, so come stand by this log so I can hop on you bareback, and if you insist on going the whole way on your hind legs and bolting and bucking you're going to be tired but that's OK because it's raining and that 40 mph wind feels pretty good" I have a little high school pony girl who works for me who still operates on that system, and I look at her with a mixture of awe, nostalgia, envy and sheer maternal terror.

Now there's all this mental dithering -- I don't know whether that represents the loss of confidence or the dawning of reason...

It is a wonderful thing to know I am not the only one gettin in touch with my inner coward.

Huntseatrider said...

I generally plan my rides around who I am riding that day. If I'm riding the babies and my filly, I'll ride the ultra sensitive sided baby, then my filly, then the dead head. If I'm riding someone else that day, I generally ride them last.

I pretty much plan by the week and have a specific goal for each week for each horse based on a 6 days of riding.

If any of them are just having a "greenie" day or things just will not cooperate, I just lunge for about 20 minutes, and hop in a western saddle and watch a lesson. So point in fighting a battle you're not going to win.

I don't set super specific goals, just something I know I can attain in one or two rides and then see where we end up at the end of the week.

Princess Jess said...

Maybe this is the reason why I love Dressage so much- it pretty much takes care of the planning for me.

Every level has a new set of movements, and the goals for each level are clearly defined. The levels progress in a logical manner, each one building on the last.

For instance, I'm schooling Jack in Intro level right now (walk/trot). he needs to know how to do walk/halt, halt/walk, walk/trot, trot/walk transitions, he needs to maintain steady rhythm at the walk and trot. He needs to be able to trot a 20-meter circle. He needs to know how to bend and go straight. He also needs to know how to free-walk across the diagonal of the arena. That's it. But that's a lot, considering he's brand new at it all.

So JUST that right there is our training plan. I will work on these things until he masters them ALL. He happens to be great at the free-walk and his transitions, but sucks at his 20-meter circles. So I know I need to work more on his circles.

In addition to the training plan, we have GOALS that we aim for during our training. The GOAL for this level is to confirm that he learns the basic fundamentals, and, as a result, that he "moves freely forward in an obedient manner, with a light and steady contact with the bit." To refine it, we want free and regular gaits, impulsion with a relaxed back, attention, confidence, "acceptance of aids with nose slightly in front of vertical," ease of movements, etc.

Well okay. Movements he needs to learn; check. HOW those movements should be done; check. Ultimate goal for his level of training; check.

Then, to see how we're doing in our training, we can go to a dressage show. That's why they're called "tests." We're checking to see where the horse/rider are in terms of their training and fitness. The judges will write comments so you know how you're doing, and what you need to work on.

I LOVE that kind of structure, because I doubt I'd think about it that much on my own.... And if I wasn't working towards anything, I wouldn't school my horse as much as I do. I'm ALWAYS trying to get my horse to that next level, no matter what level they're at currently. Gives me something to work for.

Princess Jess said...

Oh I forgot to add:

This summer I hope to be able to trail ride Jack about 2-3 times a week, and school in the arena 2-3 times a week.

I don't want to sour him on arena work, and trail riding will be SO good for his brain, and it will get him fit enough to do the movements, but I still think the structured training needs to take place, and it needs to take place in the arena. :)

So that's kind of my plan...

verylargecolt said...

As long as we're talking astrology, do you find you get along with a certain sun sign of horse best? I have traditionally just LOVED the Aries horses, but I also think it's significant that the VLC's birthday is one day before the best show horse I ever owned - both Tauruses.

Oh, and I think Pisces babies are the easiest to break. They just don't have a mean bone.

mbd said...

Can I post here? I'm not a re-rider and don't seem to have fear issues at 45 so maybe I'm not the brightest crayon in the box. Shouldn't you stop taking on projects at over 40? And I don't mean cute, well-bred, never handled projects. I mean rehab, OMG-sell-them-quick-before-your-ass-ends-up-in-the-hospital-and-your-friends-think-you're-nuts- projects?

But planning is a big thing with me. Not that it always goes how I'd like it to, but I need a plan.

Current project is a BAM (big ass mare) -- and do I win anything for having a great acryonm? Gotta admit, that's a good one. She does need a good new name, and BAM-BAM might not be bad ...

But yes, plans, plans, plans. I think in terms of days, weeks, months. Where do I need to be by the end of this day / week / month? Sometimes it's not a big thing, but progress is what counts.

I love the blogs (Fugly and VLC) and read often. Don't post much as I missed out on the fear installation .... I will still ride most anything, anytime. It may catch up with me someday (and I don't have health insurance) but so far there's not anything I won't take on.

That intimidates some people, which it shouldn't. It obviously shows you're smarter than I am.

But having a goal, even if it's something as simple as "I will trot 3-20 metre circles today" is a great thing.

Also -- big training tip here -- get it free, before I figure out how to market it in orange -- STOP WHEN YOU ARE AHEAD.

How many of us have pushed it just a bit too far because we were having such a great day? Only to lose all the ground we gained and then some?

Please, take advantage of my decreipt old age wisdom here. If you get something, one thing, ANYTHING you have been working for ..... STOP. Call it good, tell your horse they're the most fantastic brave greatest horse in the world and walk way, with a treat and a pet.

Tomorrow, you'll be glad.

Ask me how I know this.

Char said...

Yay! More blogging all around! (I was up untill 1am last night catching up on the FHODT blog.)

Ok, well my plans have changed. I like to have a very broad plan, which I probably need to make MUCH more specific. I'm an Aries, so I tend to go from one extreme to the other. I'll start plan with great gusto, ony to loose intrest little more than halfway through and make a new one. *sigh*

I'm telling you, if I could find a good Leo closer to finish up the BRILLIANT shit I think up and start, the world would be on FIRE!

Ha,ha! Yeah... (that's the gusto part I was refering to)

Anyways, my Moose went to his vet check up last week on the lameness issues and was deemed a tall, older horse on feet that are too small for his mass with arthritis pretty much all over.

This is good news considering what we were checking him for...

So, I have been given the go-a-head for light conditioning work, mostly flat trail riding at the walk, and pretty much just see what he can handle on any given day and only do that.


My mom's mare...I just really don't like her yet. I'm the kinda person who really has to get to know a horse and like them before I'm comfortable working with them, and I'm just not there with her yet. I'm getting closer, though. I had a "spa" day complete with bubble baths with both horses yesterday, plus ground work sessions with each (eventhough the work sessions only lasted until each broke a sweat...about 15 min each) I could definately tell that she was looking at me a little differently by the end of the day all clean and bug free in her stall with the fan on high blowing in her face and her mane and forelock braided beautifully. :)

Sagebrusheq said...

Astrology? You guys are starting to make Parrelli's Venn diagrams seem pretty reasonable. Sorry, I missing some vital consideration in my training scheme? Or, is it just some intuitive distaff thing that needs a peg to hang on, beyond the ken of men?

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

MBD - of course you can post here, and I like your advice:

>>Also -- big training tip here -- get it free, before I figure out how to market it in orange -- STOP WHEN YOU ARE AHEAD.<<

Sagebrush, LOL, wait until I start talking about my horse's numerology and mine and the reasons we're so compatible. You will have to come over here and whap me one. hahaha...

love to ride said...

Yes, I have a plan, and I also have a log. I record what I worked on for each horse and how long the ride was in the log. This helps me make sure they are in condition for our trail rides.

For my ex-barrel horse - I work on basics in the arena during the week. On the weekend, we trail. We bought him and he knew only one speed, gallop, but he had perfect ground manners. The arena worries him. He can now walk at different speeds relaxed. He can slow lope, he can almost jog (think WP). He can plant his butt when I breathe out. He is much calmer now and this is a huge accomplishment. He still worries about speed and lead changes in the arena. He is very trustworthy on the trails. For him I work on transitions, suppleness and collection. I have time to work with him.

For my older mare - she knows the most, but also resists the most in the arena. She pulls on the bit while holding her head left. Obviously this makes her very crooked. I have not unlocked the key to maintaining straightness, but we are working on it. Great jog. Good trail horse. Did not spook at the two coyotes 20 feet from us on the trail last weekend. Right now my primary goal for her is perfecting the basics. For example, every horse can transition with any rider, but a beautiful transition, is a joy to watch and a pleasure to ride. This can't be done on a horse that is resisting.